Last time we discussed the basics of weight loss and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. This week, I want to go a little deeper into exercise.
As mentioned before, doing cardio is good for your body as well as getting a jump start on weight loss. The real key to fat loss though, is to build lean muscle. I’m not talking body builder muscle, but a decent amount of muscle that is strong and appropriate for your body type to support your metabolism as well as your daily activities. Muscle is what promotes a faster resting metabolism (meaning, it helps you burn calories even while you are not doing any physical activity). So… how do we build muscle? There are a few different ways to build muscle that I am going to cover.
First, there are body resistance training exercises. These are my favorite, because they require essentially no workout equipment due to you using your body to build upon itself.
Body resistance training 101:
- Push-ups (Click here for a guide with different push-up variations)
- Squats (Click here for a guide with different squat variations)
- Ab sets (Click here for a beginners guide)
- Lunges (Click here for a guide with different lunge variations)
- Pull-ups (Click here for a step-by-step guide)
Secondly, there are machine resistance training exercises. The amount of equipment required can vary here. From using resistance bands, to exercise machines that hyper-isolate one muscle group and build on contractions (pushing your muscles out, then stretching, and back again). Here is a guide that shows you variations with resistance bands.
And lastly, another one of my favorite, are the free weight exercises. These are basically resistance training but I like to include them in their own category because they do such a great job at helping improve stability and target certain muscle groups while helping tone other areas of your body through stabilization. Here is a beginners guide for utilizing weight machines as well as free-weights.
I recognize that a lot of people who might be reading this may be thinking at this point, “but what if I can’t do any of these exercises due to an injury, or general immobility?” Don’t worry, you can still build muscle! It may take a little longer, but there are some great ways to modify workouts so that anyone can participate.
My guide for limited mobility:
- 2-5lb (or heavier) Dumbbells *can substitute for 16oz water bottles or any similarly heavy set of objects
- Medicine Ball *can substitute for a sturdy medium sized ball, such as a basketball or soccer ball
- Resistance Bands *optional
- Paper plates *or socks that allow for easy sliding
Instructions: It is advised that adults get approx. 30 minutes of exercise each day. Find which exercises below work best for you or are the most enjoyable and rotate between them as needed for 30 minute intervals. Be sure to include at least one rest day in your routine if you are new to exercise.
Legs: Seated Slides Back and Fourth
Sit tall and place paper plates under each foot. Push onto the right plate and slide the foot forward. Slide the foot back, pressing onto the plate to activate the hamstrings while sliding the left foot forward. Continue alternating for 16 reps (one rep includes both right and left slides).
Legs: Seated Outer Thigh
Sit tall in the chair and tie a band around the mid-thighs. Step the right foot out to the side, touch lightly and then bring it back in, focusing on the outer thigh. Repeat, stepping out with the left foot and repeat for a total of 16 reps (one rep includes both the right and left taps).
Sit tall with feet flat on the floor and knees together. Squeeze the quads (upper thigh) to straighten the right leg, foot flexed. Bend the knee to lower the foot, lightly touching the floor. Repeat for 20 reps and switch sides. Add ankle weights for more intensity if desired.
Legs: Seated Ball Taps
Place a medicine ball (or a medium sized ball of choice) in front of you and sit tall with the abs engaged. Lift the right foot and tap the toes on top of the medicine ball. Take it back down and tap with the left foot. Continue tapping the ball, alternating feet, as fast as you can repeating for 16-20 reps.
Legs: Inner Thigh Squeeze
While seated with tall posture, place a ball between your knees. Squeeze the ball by contracting (pulling in) the inner thighs and release slightly–don’t release all the way–and repeat for 16 reps.
Arms: Seated Lateral Pull With Band
While sitting tall, hold a medium-tension band in both hands up above and slightly in front of your head. The distance between your hands will determine the intensity of the exercise (closer together is harder, further apart is easier). Contract the back and pull the right elbow down toward the ribcage. Release and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.
Upper Body: Chest Squeeze With Medicine Ball
Sit on a chair, back straight and abs in. Hold a medicine ball (or any other type of medium sized ball) at chest level and squeeze the ball to contract the chest. While continuing to squeeze the ball, slowly push the ball out in front of you at chest level until elbows are almost straight. Continuing the pressure with your hands, bend the elbows and pull the ball back to chest. Repeat for 16 reps.
Upper Body: Seated Lateral Raise
Sit with a tall posture holding 2-5lb dumbbells (or 16oz water bottles) at your sides. Keeping the elbows slightly bent and wrists straight, lift the arms up to shoulder level (palms face the floor). Lower back down and repeat for 16 reps.
Upper Body, Shoulders: Overhead Press
Sit with tall posture holding 2-5lb dumbbells (or 16oz water bottles) in both hands. Begin the move with arms bent to 90 degrees, weights next to the ears (arms should look like a goal post). Press the weights overhead and lower back down, repeating for 16 reps.
Arms: Biceps Curls
Sit and hold 2-5lb dumbbells (or 16oz water bottles). Curl the weight up toward your shoulder and release. Avoid swinging the weights and keep the abs engaged. Repeat for 16 reps.
Core: Seated Rotation for Abs
Sit tall, holding a 5-8lb dumbbell (or an equally heavy object) in front of your chest. Keeping the abs contracted, rotate the torso to the right while keeping the hips and legs facing forward. Contract abs to bring the weight back to center and then rotate to the left. Repeat for 12 reps.
Hopefully after reading this, you have been able to think of a few ways that you will be able to implement strength training into your daily routine. Play around with these guides and even create your own fun way to get active, while building muscle, by exploring different sports or activities such as hiking. The most important part of exercise, is that you are enjoying it and doing it to better your body and mind rather than seeing as a chore because you “need” to lose weight. Rethinking physical activity is the start to a healthier, happier life.